It’s an upsetting time of year for many professional athletes as the rosters become finalized, and many dreams are put on hold. The cut down to 53-men cannot be easy, but sometimes lost opportunities can open the door to a greener pasture.
The Giants have been active with their waiver claims under Dave Gettleman, whose past claims have included receiver/special teams ace Cody Core, tackle Eric Smith, and tight end Kaden Smith.
As teams cut down their rosters, pro and college scouting departments assemble their reports and look to bring any potential fits to their rosters. It’s a common practice, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of this in the coming days.
Also worth noting is that this year, practice squads have been increased to 16 men, six of whom can have any number of years' experience. Also, four players can be protected weekly by a team from the common poaching process around the league.
Also of note is that not every player is eligible for waivers. Typically those with less than four years experience are waiver-wire eligible while those with more experience are free to sign with whomever they wish.
(Such was the case with defensive end Mario Edwards, who we originally had on our list. Edwards agreed to terms with the Bears, per reports.)
What players might Gettleman and the Giants, who currently have the fourth waiver priority, be eyeing this year?
WR Keelan Doss, Las Vegas
The Raiders' investment into Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards during the draft about sealed the fate for Doss, who was solid while on the field for Jon Gruden and the Raiders.
Doss is a 6’3, 211-pound wide receiver who caught 11 of his 14 targets, 6 for a first down conversion, and started two games.
Doss went to UC-Davis and had unreal production; he had over 100 receptions in two separate seasons while showing off his smooth route running ability and solid catch radius.
He finished his time at UC-Davis with 321 receptions for 4069 and 28 total touchdowns. The Giants only have five receivers on their roster (Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, C.J. Board, and Corey Coleman).
Doss is a bigger body that could provide a more traditional “X” type of receiver to Jason Garrett’s offense.
WR Robert Foster, Buffalo
Foster is a 6’2, 196-pound receiver who has deep vertical speed and was relevant in 2018 for a rookie Josh Allen.
In that season, Foster had 27 catches on 44 targets for 541 yards and three touchdowns. He entered the 2019 team as the possible number two contender opposite John Brown, but he dealt with injuries through training camp and into the season.
In 2018, Foster led the league in aDot (average depth of target) and was second in the league in yards per target, only behind Seattle’s Tyler Lockett.
The former Crimson Tide receiver seemed to carve a role out in Buffalo until the team traded for Diggs and injuries derailed his career.
Now, he’s available on waivers, he too could be another receiver the Giants look to add to the practice squad.
OC Ryan Groy, Los Angeles Chargers
Giants head coach Joe Judge preaches versatility, and the Giants need more depth at center. Well, Ryan Groy has experience playing both guard positions and extensive experience as a center.
In 2019, he made nine appearances with the Chargers, but only played 36 offensive snaps. In 2018, Groy was with the Bills, and he played 471 snaps at center.
The former Wisconsin Badger is 6’5, 320 pounds, and he has some familiarity with Judge from the 2015 season when he was on the practice squad for New England.
The center market is devoid of talented, proven players; it’ll be difficult to find a capable starting center if the Nick Gates experiment doesn’t work out.
EDGE Shaquem Griffin, Seattle
Griffin is easily one of the best players to root for in the NFL. He was the backup strongside linebacker, a special teams contributor, and a rotational pass rusher who provided ten pressures and a sack in 2019.
The Giants currently have Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin as developmental pass rushers. Both are similar to Griffin in terms of being in a "'tweener mold," but Griffin being available on waivers is still a bit shocking.
I don’t think the Giants will go in this direction, but his competitive drive and toughness do seem like Joe Judge type of traits.
EDGE Nate Orchard, Washington Football Team
Orchard was in the spotlight during the Browns run on HBO’s hit series Hard Knocks. He’s a 27-year-old pass rusher who has bounced around the NFL.
In his final season at Utah, he recorded 21.5 tackles for a loss and 18.5 sacks. He earned the Ted Hendricks Award (given to the nation’s top defensive end), resulting in him being a second-round selection.
Orchard has been in the league since 2015, and he can’t seem to earn a consistent role. He only has six career sacks, three of which came in his rookie season.
He's been on three squads in one year. However, he was with Patrick Graham for a part of the 2019 season with Miami. I don’t believe this to be likely, but the Giants aren’t exactly the deepest at the EDGE position.
DT Robert Windsor, Indianapolis
Beat reporters out of Indianapolis were raving about Windsor’s work ethic and a quick first step that he combined with heavy hands, at the 3-technique position.
I, too, was witness to Windsor’s skill set this past year at the Senior Bowl. He was relentless, and it was evident that he was coached in college by a guy that goes by the moniker "Coach Chaos."
(That would be Giants defensive line coach Sean Spencer, as Giants fans probably know by now.)
Windsor is a 6’4, 290-pound, versatile defensive lineman. The issue with the Giants pursuing Windsor is the depth of the defensive tackle position.
I do believe Windsor’s mentality, physical nature, and work ethic would be appealing to Judge. Still, I don’t know if the Giants have the luxury to sign another defensive lineman to an already deep defensive line.
CB Sidney Jones, Philadelphia
Many people felt Jones was an absolute steal at No. 43 in 2017, but it never worked out in Philadelphia.
Jones was supposed to be a first-round selection in 2017, but he ruptured his Achilles during his pro-day workout. He missed the entire 2017 season and struggled pretty mightily in 2018.
However, his 2019 was a bit better statistically, and he had a game-sealing interception against Daniel Jones and the Giants.
He has solid size, a high draft pedigree, and has progressed; plus, he's only 24 years of age. A change of scenery may be the best thing for Jones, and the Giants certainly need assistance at the cornerback position.
CB Rasul Douglas, Philadelphia
The Eagles certainly wanted some sort of change at the cornerback position; this was obvious when they traded for Darius Slay, but I did not expect them to release both Jones and Douglas.
Douglas is a bigger cornerback who is a bit stiff hipped, and he also struggled with vertical speed. However, he had solid production in Philadelphia: 18 starts in 46 games and logged 118 tackles, 25 passes defended, and five interceptions, while surrendering ten touchdowns.
He's experienced, long, and still only 25 years of age. Like Jones, the Giants may look at one of these options to add to their relatively unproven cornerback room.
CB Nevelle Clarke, Minnesota
Clarke is a 2020 undrafted rookie out of UCF who showed solid coverage skills in college. A solid overall athlete with good change of direction skills and hip fluidity, while possessing the short-area quickness required for the cornerback position.
He’s 6’1, 187 pounds, and has 32” arms. He was productive in college and has good ball skills: 24 passes defended and four interceptions in the last two seasons.
I talked a little bit about Clarke during the pre-draft process; I feel he has good traits that can be molded. Since the Giants will probably still be in the market for cornerbacks, even after the Isaac Yiadom trade, young moldable players like Clarke might not be a terrible option.
CB Ryan Lewis, Washington Football Team
The 26-year-old Lewis has ties to current Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, for whom he played last season in Miami.
In eight games for the Dolphins, the 6'0, 195-pound Lewis thrived, allowing 55.9% of the pass targets against him to be completed for 291 yards and only 49 after the catch.
He allowed just one touchdown and recorded one interception and four pass breakups and could be another veteran presence who could solidify the depth in an otherwise still relatively young Giants cornerback room.